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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Reflections on a Snowy Day

It is a snowy day  here in Columbia, SC.  February 12, 2014.  We have only a smattering or "real" winter here and when it does come it is by far the best to just stay home and avoid all the South Carolina drivers who think they CAN drive in the snow and all those who think they CAN'T.  Both are equally dangerous and sitting at home looking at the falling snow from my window is the best bet.

However these kind of days bring on a mood of reflection.  Well, I often get those moods no matter what the weather.  So, I'm going to bore everyone with some of them.

I'm sitting here watching the movie "Ender's Game".  Not so much because I like it but because my wife wanted me to order it from DirecTV.  I've not read the books but I've always heard of them and my daughter enjoys them.  There is just not enough time in the world to read all the books I would probably like so I exercise a great deal of "editing" in my reading list.

Snow, bad movies, a little vodka and, "voila", here come memories and reflections.  This is nothing like an organized sequence of thoughts and feelings.  Just some reflections and observations of myself as well as others.

I'm not an easy person to get to know.  I'm not simple, I'm not open, I'm hidden to most including myself at times.  I don't like to have people too close.  Only the people you love can hurt you.  I've had entirely enough of that so  it is much simpler to just never allow people inside.  Keep them at arm's length.  Keep yourself at arm's length.  Never show anyone what you think, what you feel, anything.  That is the only safe way.

I just recently turned sixty years of age.  Lord knows (that is just a figure of speech) I never expected to reach one third that age and that expectation has played hell with my life beyond my expectations.  I did many things thinking I would be dead at age twenty-one.  Seems like a silly belief now I am sixty and might even make it to the next decade though I am far from convinced it will  happen.

People have called and still call me various things.  I'm sure I do not know all of them but the ones I do know are "pessimist", "smart ass", "arrogant", "uncaring",  many other things.  But, what am I?  Really?  What am I?  Who's opinion matters?  How clearly does anyone see others or themselves? 

These are questions I can provide no clear answers to.  I don't even know if I want to.  I think that might be the greatest error people my have is thinking they see anything clearly.  The world, up and down, right and wrong, love and hate is never clear.  There is a great fog that covers everything but no one can see it.    It is an invisible fog that obscures everything yet at the same time appears to reveal everything.  It is our own perceptions.   We blind ourselves with a fog of mistaken understanding and seek to deny anything that does not fit, cozily, into our own cookie-cutters. 

I have these questions, doubts, flights of fancy where I question everything including my own existence.  For, logically, none of us and nothing external can exist.  From nothing comes nothing yet by both religion and secularism we are asked to believe just this.  Neither offers a cogent explanation for our very existence yet demand we believe in their explanations for everything else.    Neither have any satisfactory explanations for anything at all. 

So, why is this a reflection?  Mostly because of what other people's beliefs have done to my life, my world, my past and my future.  It would seem beliefs have nothing to do with any reality but within our minds they direct all of our actions.  They guide us to do or not do things and those things we do or do not do shapes our lives.  Most times in ways we do not even recognize.  Not until far after and far too late.

I would have been far better off had I been a non-believer far earlier in my life.  Yet the tie of belief and obedience is strong and though our own observations contradict all we have been taught we continue to cling to belief as "a drowning man clutches at straws".   Even when we know the straw is not real and, even if it were, we would still drown.  That is childhood.  I think we never really outgrow that.  We  have ideas, thoughts, dreams, even epiphanies but those "lessons" of childhood are hard to shake.  No matter how many times they are proven to be untrue.  Just what do we as parents do to our children?  How much damage do we do while wholly convinced we are doing right?  Only time will tell but we won't live to see it all as all our mistakes flow downtime to our grandchildren and great grandchildren and beyond.  Just how much damage does our good intentions do? 

If I have anything in this life I am proud of it is two things.  First and foremost I think my children will think for themselves and make decisions in their lives based on their own beliefs and not on mine.  Second is that they read.  Reading will open one's eyes and mind like nothing else.  I cannot judge what might be right or wrong for my kids but with, I hope, little "pre-programming" from me they will  not one day look back on their lives and crucify me for their beliefs but will realize no matter what they have come to believe it is something they have arrived at on their own. 

In reflection, I think the greatest gift one can five one's children is the right and ability to choose their own future as guided by their own beliefs.  Unlike me.  I sincerely hope they have lives unlike me.  Lives of their own choosing.  And I hope they pass that on to my grandchildren and then to my great grandchildren and then.... on and on down the line.